Monday Mornings with Madison

Charitable Giving: Who Gives?

Part 1

Did you know that charitable giving increases at this time of year? Indeed, about 40 percent of all charitable donations in the U.S. are made in December. For many charities, end-of-year fundraising is the difference between a successful year and financial hard times. But who is doing the giving? Many think that the majority of all charitable donations are made by the ultra wealthy (think Bill Gates and Sam Walton), big foundations, or prosperous companies trying to increase their tax deductions. In reality, of the more than $300 billion that Americans give to charities every year, only 15% comes from foundation grants and 6% from corporations. The rest – nearly 80 cents of every dollar — is given by individuals. Yet, it’s not primarily by the people you’d most expect. Continue reading

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Logo Mania

Often people confuse the words ‘logo’ and ‘brand’, and use them interchangeably.  For many, the two words are synonymous.  That is not so.  A company’s brand is comprised of much more than its logo.  A brand is a promise.  It’s a unique combination of a logo, words, typefaces, colors, slogan, mascot, personality, price, customer service, aesthetics, attitude, voice, and more, all working together to convey the essence of the company or organization.  That said, the company logo is a key, integral part of its brand and, often, it is the most easily-identifiable representation of the company’s identity. Continue reading

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The Business Conundrum of Quantity or Quality?

About 2,000 years ago, Roman philosopher and statesman Lucius Annaeus Seneca was quoted as saying “It is quality rather than quantity that matters.”  Some 1,900 years later, Scottish author and poet George McDonald agreed saying “It is our best work that G-d wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think he must prefer quality to quantity.”  Mohandas Ghandi also said that “It is the quality of our work which will please G-d and not the quantity.”  These learned men agree that when it comes to work, excellence trumps volume.  Less is more. Continue reading

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A Good Time To Do Good

There is no shortage of blessings for which we should express appreciation.  Solid health.  Supportive spouse.  Loving family.  Long-time friends.  Thriving business.  Great success.  Acclaim.  Good fortune.   It turns out that giving thanks is good not only for the people receiving that appreciation (after all, it feels good to be told “thank you”) but also for the person expressing gratitude.  In fact, gratitude seems to work like a “booster shot” for relationships.  This goes for relationships at work as well. An employee expressing gratitude for a boss’ generosity makes both the boss and employee feel better.  The same is true for a boss expressing appreciation for an employee’s hard work.  Both boss and employee feel better. Giving thanks — the actual act of expressing it — is mutually beneficial. Continue reading

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Time Matters

Every business on the planet would like to improve its use of time.  As the saying goes, time is money.  Better time management means more profits.  It is therefore understandable that businesses — which constantly strive to be ever more profitable — are obsessed with time.  Saving time.  Managing time.  Not wasting time.  It especially makes sense given that time is the one truly finite resource.  A company can hire more staff.  It can buy more equipment.  It can till or mine more raw materials or recycle old materials. However, no company can make a day longer… or recycle a minute…. or find a new source of time.  Once a moment is gone, that moment can never be regained.  Scarcity is what makes time so precious. Continue reading

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Writing a Great Resume and Cover Letter

Writers and marketers are often asked to help write, revise or review a Resume and/or Cover Letter.  Sometimes, it is for friend in search of a new job.  Sometimes, it is for a business owner who needs to raise capital or increase a line of credit.  Sometimes, it is for a colleague being considered for a seat on a company’s Board of Directors.  Resumes and Cover Letters are the most basic, fundamental tools used to speak on behalf of professionals today. After all, what is a Resume and Cover Letter but self-marketing… an individual’s own personal brochure and commercial. Continue reading

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Basic Marketing Tips for Startups

As a result of the downturn in the real estate and financial markets beginning in 2007-2008, many professionals changed careers.  From realtors to lenders and from developers to appraisers, people left the lending, construction and real estate industries in droves.  As the market contracted, many small companies went out of business.  However, in recent years as the market has rebounded, professionals are slowly returning to these industries.  Many are starting new businesses.  Also, the adult children of real estate moguls and successful entrepreneurs see this as a good time to leave the parental nest and start businesses of their own.  Moreover, changing market conditions has created opportunities for new businesses that never existed before such as crowd funding and trailer document tracking.  For these reasons, real estate, building and lending startups are springing up at every turn. Continue reading

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Self-Talk Your Way to Success

The schoolyard saying that “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never harm me” is untrue.  Words can do damage.  Criticism hurts.  Disapproving remarks and belittling comments can injure a person’s sense of self worth.  Ironically, this is often most true of the talk coming from within.  Every person has inner monologues with themselves.  Psychologists commonly refer to this as self-talk, and there are different kinds of self-talk.  Among other things, through self-talk we provide ourselves with instructions, opinions and evaluations on what we are doing as we are doing it. Continue reading

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Boost Your Brain to Extend Your Career

There is one thing that all people – from entry level employees to top leaders in every profession and occupation – have in common.  Every person is getting older.  It is generally accepted that with age comes deterioration.  By middle age, there is the appearance of gray hair, age spots and wrinkles.  On the inside, the deterioration is less visible but possibly more profound.  Inflammation causes stiff joints.  Brain cells deteriorate.  This affects memory, communication, language, ability to focus and pay attention, reasoning and judgment, and visual perception.  Over time, such mental wear-and-tear can profoundly impact workplace productivity, safety, creativity, interpersonal skills and more. Continue reading

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Agreeable, Disagreeble and the Ability to Disagree

Most character traits can be a quality or a flaw, depending on the situation or circumstances.  A coworker who is very detail-oriented might also be considered nitpicky or persnickety.  An employee who is very communicative can also be perceived as being a chatty Cathy.  A boss who is very direct might also be seen as aggressive or blunt.  What is seen as a positive trait in one situation could just as easily be viewed as a personality failing in another situation. The truth is that every characteristic – even the negative ones — probably has value at the right time, place or in moderation but might also be problematic when applied in excess or in the wrong situation. Continue reading

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